Gavin Newsom is in trouble.
Democrats hold a nearly two-to-one advantage in voter registration in California. Governor Newsom has the power of incumbency. In the General Assembly, 59 of the 80 seats are held by Democrats. In the state Senate, 31 of the 40 seats are held by Democrats. A Republican has not won a statewide race for the United States Senate in more than 30 years. Yet, Newsom is facing a tight recall election coming up on September 14.
Most pundits thought recall organizers would never get the required signatures. Then they assumed the signatures would get thrown out. Then they predicted the huge margins for Democrats would ensure a blowout for Governor Newsom. Two weeks out, however, and this is a close race.
As the only governor in American history to survive a recall election, I know a thing or two about these elections. Soon after taking office in 2011, national union bosses and radical groups moved forward with plans to force a recall election against several members of the Wisconsin State Senate and me.
There are several key differences between the recall law in Wisconsin and the recall law in California. In Wisconsin, an elected official can face a recall election if enough signatures are collected and the person has been in office for at least one year.
The one-year delay was a big deal for me as it gave me time to prove to voters that our common-sense conservative reforms worked. By the fall of our first year, children went back to school, and parents could see that their schools were the same or better. Then, property taxes went down for the first time in more than a decade. Despite what the ads or protestors said, our reforms were working.
In Wisconsin, a recall election essentially means the state has a new election. Each party selects its nominee, and then there is a runoff in the general election. During our recall, the primaries were held in May and the general election in June.
We won our recall, as did Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch because voters had enough time to see that our reforms were working. We were also able to pin the recall on out-of-state agitators like the union bosses and radical groups. Once Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett was nominated (in a rematch of the 2020 election), we drew attention to the problems of violent crime, high taxes, poor education, and other issues in the City of Milwaukee.
On June 5, 2012, we won the recall election with more actual votes and a higher percentage of the votes than we had on November 2, 2010. It had a ripple effect across the nation.
In Wisconsin, voters saw the media reports of union bosses organizing protests at the state Capitol for nearly a month. In California, voters don’t hear or see the media talking about the strength of Republicans or Donald Trump. Yet, that is who Gavin Newsom is trying to blame for the recall. The most effective political arguments are those that people inherently know to be true. Voters are not buying the Newsom campaign’s fundamental argument.
Things are bad in California, and they seem to be getting worse. The Golden State is tied for the second-worst unemployment rate in the nation. It has one-fifth of all the homeless population in the country. Housing costs are nearly double the national average. And poverty continues to be an issue.
Californians are battling forest fires, mudslides, long-term droughts, property rights, and many other issues. The once vibrant and growing state is actually losing a Congressional seat after the 2020 census-for the first time in the state’s history.
Since the start of the pandemic, Governor Newsom has closed and opened and closed businesses again. Closed and opened and closed schools again. And closed and opened and closed places of worship again.
Worst of all: Gavin Newsom has committed flagrant acts of hypocrisy. Voters were already miffed about inconsistent enforcement of COVID-19 rules, like the small business owner whose bar and grill was forced to be closed while a catering crew was serving a movie set across the street.
Worst of all was the dinner at the luxurious restaurant French Laundry in Napa last November. Governor Newsom was there with the CEO of the state medical society and their chief lobbyist. FOX 11 obtained exclusive photos of them dining without masks or social distancing inside—a contradiction of the COVID-19 protocols Governor Newsom set forth for the state. Voters hate hypocrites.
Gavin Newsom may still sneak by. The only Republican to win in California during the past three decades was once in “Total Recall.” The fact that there is even a viable recall is bad news for liberals, which is why it’s fun to watch.
• Scott Walker was the 45th governor of Wisconsin. You can contact him at email@example.com or follow him @ScottWalker.